Iraq

Is This the Man Who Beheaded James Foley? And What Really Happened?

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Britain's intelligence agency believes it knows the identity of the man who beheaded American journalist James Foley. Also, some are questioning if the video of the killing was staged.

The investigation "is ongoing," an unnamed police intelligence source tells The Sunday Times, but the alleged killer may be Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old rapper who was raised in a well-to-do London home. Last year, he joined the terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is now wreaking havoc throughout Iraq.

The New York Times provides some background on the man:

Bary's father, Adel Abdel Bary, was extradited to the United States from Britain in 2012 after a long legal battle to face terrorism charges in Al Qaeda's bombing of two American Embassies in East Africa in 1998.

The younger Bary had considerable success rapping under the name "L Jinny" or "Lyricist Jinn," with singles played on BBC Radio and much-watched videos on YouTube. …

Earlier this year, Bary posted on Twitter a photograph of himself holding a severed head with the comment, "Chillin' with my homie or what's left of him."

Charming.

From The Daily Mail:

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Friends say Bary became radicalised after coming into contact with extremists linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

A former friend said: "He had the talent—he could have been as big as Dizzee Rascal. He was doing music with huge names in the underground scene.

"People have got into his head—it's transformed a talented young guy into a vengeful extremist."

Although Bary is a key suspect, there are several other men also being eyed by British intelligence.

An estimated 1,000 Europeans have joined the Islamic State, half of whom are from Britain. About 100 Americans have also joined.

Whoever actually beheaded Foley, here's a twist: "I think it has been staged," an unnamed visual forensics expert told the U.K. Times. "My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped."

The New York Daily News explains that "several pieces of evidence that suggested the video was a chilling bit of propaganda, but not an actual decapitation.":

NY Post

First, although the masked jihadist can be seen repeatedly drawing the knife across the 40-year-old war reporter's neck, no actual incisions were visible, the analyst said.

Similarly, there didn't appear to be any blood spilling from Foley's throat, and the sounds he made at the moment of his death didn't appear sound right.

The analyst also found a slight blip in the scripted remarks Foley made in the video, suggesting he may have had to repeat a line, which was spliced into the final version.

To be sure, the execution took place. It just may not have happened as the video seems to show before it fades to black.

Read more Reason coverage of the ongoings in Iraq here.